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Kimya Dawson 

Alphabutt (K)

Wednesday, Sep 24 2008

Just because the mainstream took notice when Kimya Dawson dominated Billboard charts with the Juno soundtrack doesn't mean she's left K Records for a major. Rather, with Alphabutt she's aiming for a crossover of a different kind: The goofy den mother of antifolk has crafted a children's album, in part as a response to fans who've wished she had songs more appropriate for their kids. And so this breezy batch is considerably less hung up on sex and death but still gleefully scatological, celebrating farts on the title track and, well, "Pee-Pee in the Potty" speaks for itself. There's a dark side, though. The closing "Sunbeams and Some Beans" advises today's youth to share their snacks with those less fortunate, name-checking corporate greed and our national food surplus. Even then, however, Dawson houses her more pointed sentiments in shambling folk-pop that works on several levels. It helps that she has a daughter of her own, Panda, who appears here and was the inspiration for "Little Panda Bear," "I Love You Sweet Baby," and "Louie," about Panda's beloved dog. Kids could do a lot worse – Wiggles, anyone? – than Alphabutt, a deeply heartfelt album that will endure just as long as Juno, if not quite so prominently.

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Doug Wallen


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